sbradshaw wrote:I was thinking that the sacrament would need be given to him first (which would be more difficult if he's not on the stand), but I can't find that directive in the Handbook so it may just be tradition from earlier policy!
Handbook 2, 20.4.3: "The presiding officer receives the sacrament first. The bishop (or a counselor in his absence) presides at the sacrament meeting unless a member of the stake presidency, an Area Seventy, or a General Authority is sitting on the stand."
A member of the stake presidency presides in any sacrament meeting he attends (within his own stake). He should sit on the stand. As the presiding officer, he is first to receive the sacrament. As the presiding officer, he is responsible for the outcome of the meeting. As has been pointed out, and as Elder Boyd K. Packer and many other general authorities have taught, it is difficult to preside from somewhere else in the chapel.
Recognizing that my home ward bishop and his counselors worked hard to plan and conduct a sacrament meeting that would edify and uplift the members of the ward, I allowed them to do just that. As I sat on the stand, the member of the bishopric would hand me a program (if I didn't already have one from the greeters). If I noticed anything irregular about the agenda, I would quietly mention it, but we trained our bishoprics well and that rarely happened.
At that same time, I would let the person conducting know if I wished to take any time during the meeting. Usually I did not, but there were some special times when two or three minutes allowed me to share something that would bless our ward.
And then there were the occasions when the scheduled speakers ended early. At first, the bishopric turned to me and expected me to fill the time. We resolved that very quickly. Sometimes I would, but other times I would point back to the bishopric and one of them got to do it. And sometimes I opened my hymnbook, which was their signal to conclude the meeting a few minutes early with a hymn and a prayer.
Sometimes I would go weeks without attending my own ward. Sometimes I would be there two weeks in a row. It averaged about once a month. The bishop got plenty of time to preside on his own. At the same time, the ward received the blessings that come from having stake leaders among their own.
It was a wonderful experience.